Goshen College welcomed Cathy Stoner to the role of campus pastor on Tuesday. Stoner took over the position from Joanne Gallardo, who had held it since 2019.
“In my ministry,I want [this] to be a central message: [that] the way you are made, no matter how that is, is good.”
— Cathy Stoner
Stoner graduated from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary last May with a Masters of Divinity degree. She has lived in the South Bend area for the last 30 years and, during that time, she has had many interactions with the college, particularly through her work in youth ministry.
It was during a visit to campus that Stoner observed Gallardo’s work as campus pastor.
She said that witnessing her predecessor’s interaction with students made her think, “That’s a job I could do.”
Stoner’s goal in her new role is to encourage engagement with faith and ministries on campus because, she said, faith “should be what we’re about,” as a college.
Stoner recognizes that the college setting presents unique challenges as well as opportunities for ministry.
“There are a lot of things tugging at people [during college],” Stoner said. “There are a lot of ways that people can focus their energy.”
She also pointed out that college is a “big time for identity formation” and she hopes to spread a perspective of Christianity that is centered on inclusion and community.
As a member of the LGBTQIA community, Stoner said that she hopes her “story can be an encouragement to people who are thinking and working and struggling with their identities because there has been a lot of hurt in faith communities around exclusion.”
“In my ministry,” she said, “I want [this] to be a central message: [that] the way you are made, no matter how that is, is good.”
Dr. LaKendra Hardware, the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at GC, was a member of the search committee that hired Stoner, and she plans to work closely with Stoner on campus ministries.
Dr. Hardware stated that she is confident in Stoner’s ability to rise to the challenge of ministering to college students and praised the new pastor’s ability to have hard conversations and make “God tangible” for students.
Stoner moved into her new office in Wyse 121 this week and encourages students to visit her there.
She is looking forward to the “delight and surprise of meeting so many new people” in the coming weeks.